'Moneyball' Officially Back In Play

The pre-production fiasco that has plagued Moneyball looks like it finally cleared up, as the film now has  a date to begin shooting. Deadline reports Columbia Pictures and Major League Baseball are on board to start production of the Michael Lewis book adaptation in July . Brad Pitt is still set to star as Billy Beane, while Jonah Hill will portray Paul DePodesta.

You could make a documentary on the process of getting Moneyball into production, but once production finally begins, everything should settle into a nice groove. There is some great buzz surrounding Aaron Sorkin's rough script, which should come as no surprise to anybody who has read the book the film is based on.

Arguably the best Michael Lewis book, Moneyball is the story of General Manager Billy Beane's unprecedented approach to bringing affordable talent to the Oakland Athletics baseball organization by focusing on previously ignored statistics that best predict an athlete's potential. This strategy led to an eventual division title for the A's, and a competitive team worth a fraction of the cost of mega-budget teams like the New York Yankees (boo!).

Moneyball's Billy Beane

In the movie, Beane's relationship with front-office assistant Paul DePodesta will be a major focus. These two redefined the way organizations approach player development, leaving a watermark on the future (now present) of Major League Baseball.

Organizations have been trying to lower overall expenses, not so much because of the economy, but because Billy Beane proved talent is out there in the Minor Leagues without having to spend big bucks. Think Major League's portrayal of management, but without the intention of failure.

At one point, Moneyball was to be directed by Steven Soderbergh, prompting Brad Pitt to take a pay cut in order to keep his good friend at the helm. But when production was halted only three days before a scheduled shoot date and Soderbergh left, Pitt's desired salary jumped back up to $15 million.

Well, between then and now it seems like Pitt's fee has been reduced to $10 million, with the film's budget lowered from $60 million to $47 million. Deadline reports Pitt will have some kind of back-end agreement, probably resulting in millions of dollars in his pocket after the film releases.

As great as Soderbergh would have been at depicting the true story, Capote director Bennett Miller isn't any worse. As great as the story is, the people behind the scenes will make a huge impact. For instance, people flocked to the latest Michael Lewis book adaptation, The Blind Side, after excitement grew over Sandra Bullock's performance. But again, this is largely thanks to Lewis, who writes about strong, focused characters that have stories worth telling.

One of those characters is Paul DePodesta, who will be played by Jonah Hill. The much more befitting Demetri Martin was once tagged to portray the "handy sidekick," but for some insane reason, somebody thought Hill would make better fit. Hate me all you want, but this casting choice makes no sense to me. I'll save most of my grief (or relief) for when I see the film in finished form, but I've got two problems with this.

The obvious concern is how little Hill looks like his real-life counterpart. If Hill has any plans on looking the part, he better hit the gym and get fit enough to look good wearing suits all film. But looks aren't everything - talent makes a great character. Jonah Hill is not a bad actor, I will say. He is hilarious and great at ad-libbing with his co-stars.

The relationship between Beane and DePodesta is one of two friends that share a constant sense of humor, so Pitt and Hill feeding off each other could end up being great. But I need to believe a guy like Hill can pass for a genius like DePodesta, especially considering they look absolutely nothing alike. Without roles like this, though, how will Hill ever break out from being typecast?

Getting a solid starting date for production is a major step for Moneyball. Sure, we've seen this before and the studio still ended up tossing the film in the recycle bin, but with an allegedly great script, don't expect that to happen again. The success of The Blind Side should be even more motivation to get this project off the ground.

What do you think about the casting decisions? Are you excited for this movie? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Moneyball is set to being filming in July.

Source: Deadline via The Playlist

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